See the below testimonials from people who have worked with me in the past:
The main reason I sought mentoring from David was for all-around self-improvement. In addition, I wanted to prepare myself to be a psychotherapist, to better understand human psychology, and to get an experience as a client in the client-therapist/mentor relationship. I also wanted to speak to someone regarding the existential questions about life that I’d felt uncomfortable discussing with most other people—as these tend not to be everyday topics. I was confident that David would be able to understand my ideas, and that he would provide further understanding of these subjects. Previously, I had been to multiple meditation retreats that David led, and each time I left with insights. I had observed that he was highly perceptive and mindful.
Over the course of three months, David’s mentoring enabled me to make significant progress in all of the areas I set out to improve upon. I found the mind map he designed useful as a framework to explore the various aspects of my life and for guiding our sessions. It also reinforced the interconnectedness of these aspects and the holistic approach to well-being and living mindfully that was a theme throughout our work together. David often let me lead our conversations and asked pertinent questions. This allowed me to open up and convey my thoughts at my own pace. Writing my own session summaries helped me to mentally cement things that I learned during our interactions and served as a reference for my own practice. The three-month commitment was important because it urged me to explore certain issues at a greater depth that I otherwise would not have.
I greatly appreciated David’s expertise in mindfulness and meditation. His guidance on the Chan/Zen method of silent illumination has motivated me to maintain a regular practice, which is growing more consistent every day. This has been critical in correcting certain aspects of my practice, for example my fixation on thinking processes. Furthermore, I found his guidance on integrating this approach into daily life to be a key component of our mentoring that somehow tied everything together.
The mentoring process brought awareness to some distressing, limiting views and thought patterns that have been stuck in my psyche subconsciously for many years. For instance, I held a negativity towards thought and intellect, fixated on my bodily sensations of anxiety, and had a low self-efficacy in social interactions. Interestingly, as I became more aware of these views, initially I seemed to become more distracted by them—especially more self-conscious during social engagements. However, the power of these troublesome views weakened over time as I recognized that they are only disturbing when we believe in them. From this, I learned that change is not a linear process and problems may become more acute before being resolved.
For my personal development and future work as a therapist, I learned the importance of open inquiry and the task of clarifying thought patterns and views, rather than seeking to change or dispute them immediately. Becoming clearly aware of these things within the broader context of life experience has allowed for significant change in and of itself.
I am grateful to have learned so much from David’s mentoring, and I’m inspired to give my energy to helping others—as he has helped me.
-Dave, Social Worker, NYC
As both a regular provider and recipient of professional counseling, I can attest that David brings something special and important to the field. Rather than getting lost in abstractions or fixated on results, David’s life-practice approach is both grounded and flexible, holistic and focused.
Working with David helped me to bring compassionate attention and renewed intention to every part of my day. By his guidance, and by his example, David helped me understand my own unique path toward the intentional way of life I was seeking.
-Bin Kagedan, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, NYC
“I first met David Listen back in 2010, at the time known by his monastic name, ChangWen Fashi, at a silent retreat held in upstate New York. I was struck by his gentle demeanor and his depth of knowledge about the Buddhist practices and philosophies, but more than that, his ability to translate those tenets to be applicable to any layperson — without watering down the concepts. Fast-forward to 2017, when David reached out at a critical juncture in my personal and professional lives (unbeknownst to him at the time), offering his services as a life mentor. It did not take too much thought to recognize that there was happenstance and purpose behind the timing of this connection.
“I worked with David for three months, not entirely knowing if I had any particular expectation from the mentorship, outside of getting to understand myself and my place in the world a little better. What I have walked away with after 12 weeks of introspection and self-reflection, however, is less of a sense of self — in a good way. Whereas I think I was more concerned about how I was being perceived by others when we first began our sessions, by the end, I recognized that the point of understanding myself better was so that I wouldn’t have to think about myself, or how others thought of me, or the concept of “self” at all.
“By listening patiently to me during our sessions, David allowed me to draw conclusions based on our conversations, made room for uncertainty, and invited me to think more deeply about how physical, emotional, and psychological well-being are all interconnected. As an avid runner, for instance, I found that refocusing on breath during sitting meditation opened up my capacity to find a natural rhythm on the road; and vice versa: taking better physical care of myself helped free up my mental space for creativity. David helped to facilitate a thorough examination of all aspects of my life, past, present, and future, and understand how closely knitted everything is.
“With David’s guidance, I have been able to shed a lot of layers of self and now feel more able to tackle tasks big and small with clarity of mind and fullness of heart. I have learned so much, and am continuing to learn, still.”
-Joyce, Writer, NYC
“I still vividly remember the first time I met David. I had a 40 minute chat with him, seeking help for my emotional difficulties. David listened with all his heart. His expressions delivered great sympathy and love. His full attention encouraged me to continue the deep conversation.
David clearly expressed his understanding of my suffering and provided me guidance to deal with different situations. He also outlined the foundation of the philosophy he applied in his life and his mentoring. Since then I have been in regular communication with David, either to study meditation or discuss an immediate situation in my life.
The philosophy David presented to me unveiled a new perspective, which proved to be a healthier interpretation of life and myself. With this, I am able to embrace hardships that I could not before, and more amazingly, I witness how it positively affects others.”
-Kuangyi, Business Analyst, NYC
“As an introverted person, I was very self-conscious about speaking with David initially. I felt as though any issues from my own life that I could discuss would greatly pale in comparison to David’s extensive and far-reaching life’s work, and seemed trivial. However, I was very much mistaken, as after about 10 minutes into our mentoring session, I felt as though I was talking to an old friend. I never felt judged in any way—and quite the contrary—I felt like every word I spoke was listened to with deep understanding and compassion, on a level I had not experienced before. I knew that I was in a very fortunate situation to be able to receive life mentoring from someone with David’s experience and wisdom.
I considered myself an evolved person, well on my way down the path of self-discovery. Yet, I very quickly came to understand that I had many misguided notions and skewed beliefs about the behavior of the world and people around me, that simply were not based in fact. In addition to listening, David offered experiences and knowledge gained from his own life.
I never felt as though I were being told how or what to think, but rather provided insights and observations and left to come to my own belief or understanding myself. There is a vast difference between being told what is true versus being gently guided towards arriving at a truth yourself.
I keep all of the notes from our sessions in a special folder and reflect on them often. I am very grateful that our paths crossed.”
– E.G., New Jersey
What I learned most from David was from his personal example. For instance, his eyes and overall demeanor are very relaxed, and he deals with life issues with a certain humor and light-heartedness. This is evident in his speech and writing, especially. His manner of being really rubs off in a pleasant way.
David can be philosophical, yet in a down to earth way, pointing out the underlying principle of life practice and how it applies to dealing with daily life issues. Yet, he doesn’t act like a know-it-all or high-and-mighty figure, like some professionals whom I find unbearable. Rather, he is like a good and wise friend. It feels comfortable sharing things with him. He even shared with me his life story and struggles, and seeing him develop into a personality which I respect is heartwarming.
During our sessions, David asked very interesting questions, which inspired some remarkable insights within me. He challenged my ideas and preconceptions of things as being either black or white, pointing out to me the varied nature of life’s situations. Due to his good listening and also good questioning, I was able to reflect on my condition more deeply. By encouraging me to answer my own questions, I was able to more clearly internalize my insights. David is remarkably resourceful, and his intuitiveness compliments his life experience—he gave me good leads to information about career as well as guided me in clarifying what career I really want.
I also really enjoyed our mindful walk in the park. Walking along with David, I was able to follow the guided meditation step by step, and find a tool for self-awareness that I can carry with me throughout my life.
– Leon, New Jersey
“Any of you who are on the path of self-exploration know that finding a real spiritual friend, or should I say mentor, is not easy. I have met many mentors from many traditions in my life; but David has made the biggest impression on me so far.
In my experience, it can difficult to find a person who doesn’t have an attitude of “I am better then you, so don’t ask so many questions.” But David always had time for me, and I never for once felt that he thought he knew something more than me.
He just simply listened closely and replied to my questions, often probing me to find the answers myself.”
– Matija, Economist, Croatia
“The biggest source of help David offered me was the mere fact he embodied what he taught. His words and advice come from a place of experience and, as a result, I find myself more and more inspired to implement his teachings on a day-to-day basis.”
-Jonathan, Mathematics Instructor, North Carolina
“Through David’s countless efforts, I learned to be quiet and listen. I learned that you can help a person so much just by remaining silent and letting them speak.
I also learned that by being silent, I could see my state of mind more clearly. By developing mental and body awareness, I was able to let go of my fears and insecurities.
This also contributed to my stability. Becoming aware of my state of mind faster allowed me to remain calm through difficult life situations. I no longer cried or had outbursts of anger. I was able to see how my mind was working and quickly adjust myself to find a more suitable way to respond to situations.
Developing stability and clarity of mind have been the best lessons I have learned. While I still stumble, I feel empowered knowing that I can apply my method and continue to have a more peaceful and stable way of life.”
-Licette, Financial Advisor, Long Island
“David has a Chinese name—常闻, which means Always Listening, and he is always listening. Not only that, through his mentoring he guided me in how to listen—to myself, others and my surroundings.
He showed me how to always mindfully be aware of myself…right here, right now.”
-Liz, Registered Yoga Instructor, NYC
“I have known David for many years, although for most of the time I spent with him I called him by his monastic name, Chang Wen Fashi. He was a monk in the Chan/Zen community where I often went on intensive meditation retreats.
I immediately connected with David’s welcoming personality, and spent many private interviews and phone calls discussing both my successes and my struggles.
His spacious mind and kind heart, along with his humor, made David a true spiritual friend. With his practical advice and deep knowledge of Chan/Zen, David was always able to keep me focused on my meditation practice, and on keeping me in line with a realistic perspective on life.
I highly recommend working with him if you are interested in committing to living fully and loving deeply.”
-Mark, Author, New Jersey
“David’s mentoring taught me how to engage in life practice on my own time and in any environment. I meditate almost every day and David’s teachings have helped me in many different times of stress.”
-Andrew, College Student, NY
“A year before I met David, I fell down to the lowest point of my life. I felt like everything that could go wrong went wrong. I began to search methods to help myself out.
I went to consult psychologists, read all kinds of psychology books and self-help books, and tried some healing work and spiritual practice from various traditions. Many of them worked and helped me to recover gradually, but I reached a point of stagnation, I wasn’t fully satisfied. I knew I could still fall to the darkness again.
At that point, a friend recommended David to me. I was a little concerned that our conversation could contain many unfamiliar terms that could make me feel uncomfortable. But to my surprise, our first talk through phone was like two old friends chatting again, very smooth and pleasant.
Different from anyone I met before, David is very calm and gentle, but alive and joyful at the same time. When we talked, I was touched by his full presence. He listened really carefully and answered wisely in a way not just to solve my current problem, but to help me find out what I missed to solve it myself.
His advice to my questions was to the point, clear and applicable. Every time after our talk, my confusions were cleared, and I knew I had the tools I needed to solve any future problems independently.
During the eight months interacting with him, I could see my own growth clearly. I reach a place that no other methods had ever brought me to. I feel so grateful to David, my trustworthy friend and compassionate mentor.
I hope more people could have the luck to encounter him and help themselves.”
-Yanxue, PhD student, NYC
这些年来，我们深深感恩老师的慈悲和帮助。因为有所求，我的内心常常处于焦躁和迷茫的状态。虽然学习了禪修，但还是常常不知道如何将禪修用到自己的日常生活中，不知道如何用学到的禪修来调整自己的心态。每当我将自己的苦恼告诉老师，无论老师有多忙， 他总会挤出时间，或通过电话，或通过微信，耐心地听我诉说，然后提出他的建议。还会整理一些资料发给我，供我学习和参考。 渐渐地，在老师的指导下，我开始学会用禪修来剖析和调整自己的心态。每到心态失衡的时候，就会想起老师的话：“用方法！” 我开始明白，人人都有烦恼，烦恼无所不在，而人与人之间的不同，就在于如何处理烦恼。光学了一堆禪修知识，却不知道如何运用到生活中。要做為自己的Life Practice，那才是有用的。
-Lucy, Journalist & Ethan, Engineer, Pittsburg